“The Wrong Number”:

The Fiscal 2008 Air Force budget request forecasts a maximum of 48 F-35s to be bought well into the next decade. That’s “the wrong number,” Air Combat Command chief Gen. Ronald Keys told AFA Air Warfare Symposium attendees on Friday. The bare minimum buy would have to be at least 80 a year in order to avoid doing yet another massive service life extension program on USAF’s F-16s, said Keys. Echoing Air Force budget officials earlier in the week, Keys maintained that the ideal number would be 110 per year to modernize the fighter force in a reasonable amount of time. However, he explained that the Air Force believes there is time to get the numbers right because “the train wreck doesn’t come inside the budget cycle,” meaning the current future years defense plan laid out with the Fiscal 2008 budget request.